The ongoing Ram Sethu controversy is set to get more intense with the Centre insisting that there is no scope for any alternative alignment for implementation of the Sethusamudram project. <b1>
DMK chief M Karunanidhi had recently stated that he had no objections for any alternative alignment for early implementation of the project, reviving hopes of an early execution.
When asked if he was ruling out scope for change in alignment, Union Shipping Minister and DMK leader, TR Baalu told reporters "Don't put your words in my mouth. I will wait for the apex court orders and then chalk out the future course of action".
He said his leader's remarks were out of anguish to clarify that the party's intention was to carry out a developmental project and not to demolish the Adam's bridge. "We are going ahead with the project and my ministry will endeavour to complete it by December next year. There is no need for any rescheduling, though there has been a minor setback to the project," he said.
Karunanidhi's remarks that there was no proof for existence of Lord Ram and the Ram Sethu was only man-made drew widespread protests from Sangh Parivar outfits.
His remarks made a former BJP MP Vedanti to issue a fatwa for beheading him, which in turn sparked off protests from the DMK and its ally PMK. While senior DMK leader had announced that he would lead a picketing programme in front of the BJP office here if the fatwa was not withdrawn, the PMK founder described it as "barbaric". Karunanidhi said Ram was only an imaginary character and Rama Sethu was not a man-made bridge.
Reactions to Karuna's 'Ram' remarks
Though, there was no major reaction from Tamil Nadu which was used to such diatribe from Dravidian leaders on Ram and Ramayana, some miscreants in Bangalore attacked the residence of Selvi, Karunanidhi's daughter and set ablaze two buses, resulting in the death of two passengers.
To this, Karunanidhi hit back saying that he treated such opposition as a speck of dust and said he stood by his remarks on Ram.
Karunanidhi's remarks came in for severe criticism by senior BJP leader LK Advani, who wanted him to retract his remarks.
The BJP, which had been fighting for a Ram temple at Ayodhya, the birth place of Lord Ram as Hindu mythology had it, did not lose the opportunity to take political mileage out of the issue, demanding a public apology from UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Dr Manmohan singh.
Karunanidhi, a self proclaimed atheist, openly challenged the BJP leader to join him in a debate over Ram. Reiterating his stand that Ram was an imaginary character, Karunanidhi said "I too had written many novels. Does those characters exist." He went a step further and said "Valmiki has said that Ram is a drunkard. Did I go to that extent".
Portraying the Rama Sethu movement as a conspiracy against Tamils and Sethu Samudram project, Karunanidhi had appealed to the sentiments of Tamils, who are expecting the completion of a dream project for them.
DMK allies back Karuna
The DMK's allies, barring the Congress, came to the rescue of Karunanidhi, when they endorsed his views on Lord Ram.
AIADMK Supremo Jayalalithaa, always waiting for an opportunity to pick up holes on Karunanidhi, joined the Sangh parivar in opposing the demolition of Ram Sethu.
However her ally, MDMK Chief Vaiko came out openly in support of the project and said his party would not accept inciting religious sentiments against it. <b3>
Karunanidhi's remarks against Hindu Gods is not new to people of Tamil Nadu. His remarks that Lord Krishna was a thief some years back, drew widespread protest from Hindu outfits and even cases were filed.
There were reports of adorning Lord Ram's portrait with a garland of
at Salem during the 1971 assembly polls which did not attract much protest.
DMK founder CN Annadurai himself, had written a book titled 'Kamba Rasam' criticising the Ramayana composed by Kamban. He had also authored a play titled
Needhi Devan Mayakkam,
justifying the acts of Ravana and condemning those of Ram.
DK founder Periyar EV Ramasamy had described Ramayana as an Aryan literature depicting a war between Aryans and Dravidians. He had opined that Ram's character symbolised an Aryan king, while Ravana that of a Dravidian leader.
Even great Tamil scholars like Devaneyan and Maraimalai Adigal, father of the 'movement for chaste Tamil' had held that Ramayana and Ram was alien to Tamil culture and religion, pointing out that there was no reference to Ram in Sangam Tamil literature.